House approves $ 1 trillion in road and other infrastructure projects

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House approved a $ 1 trillion package of road and other infrastructure projects late Friday after Democrats resolved a month-long battle between progressives and moderates, noting a victory that President Joe Biden and his party had become more and more eager to argue.

The House adopted measure 228-206. About a dozen Republicans supported it, while about half as many Democrats were against it.

The approval of the legislation, which would create legions of jobs and improve broadband, water supplies and other public works, led it to the desk of a president whose approval ratings have dropped and whose nervous party got a cold shoulder from voters in this week’s off- years of election.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates were defeated in Virginia and squeaked through in New Jersey, two blue-collar states. These setbacks made party leaders – as well as moderates and progressives – impatient to produce effective legislation and demonstrate that they know how to govern. Democrats also can ill afford to work in dissolution one year before the midterm elections, which could result in Republicans regaining congressional control.

President Joe Biden comments on the October job report from the State Dining Room in the White House, Friday, November 5, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)

Simply releasing the infrastructure measure for final congressional approval was like an adrenaline rush for the Democrats. But despite the victory, the Democrats endured a setback as they postponed a vote on another, even bigger measure, until later in the month.

The 10-year, $ 1.85 trillion measure to strengthen health, family and climate change programs was displaced after moderates demanded a cost estimate on the far-reaching measure from the non-partisan congressional budget office. The postponement shattered hopes that the day would give Biden a double-race victory with the adoption of both bills.

But in an evening breakthrough mediated by Biden and house leaders, the moderates later agreed to support the bill if the CBO’s estimates are consistent with preliminary figures provided by the White House and congressional tax analysts. The agreement, in which lawmakers promised to vote on the Social and Environmental Act in the week of November 15, stood as a significant step toward a vote in Parliament that could eventually send it to the Senate.

In return, progressives agreed to support the infrastructure measure, which they had spent months holding hostage in an attempt to pressure moderates to support the social and environmental measure.

“As part of this agreement, at the request of the President, and to ensure that we pass both bills through Parliament, progressives will present both bills on Friday night,” the rep said. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, in a statement.

The White House issued a statement from Biden on Friday night with the aim of strengthening the agreement. “I urge all members to vote in favor of both the rule of consideration of the Build Back Better Act and the final adoption of the bill on bipartisan infrastructure tonight,” he said, using the administration’s name for the two measures. “I am convinced that Parliament will pass the Build Back Better Act during the week of 15 November.”

When the party leaders announced earlier in the day that the social and environmental measure would be delayed, the distorted plans threw a fresh pallet over the party.

Democrats have been fighting for months to seize control of the White House and Congress by advancing their top priorities. It has been difficult, in part because of the Democrats’ slim majority, with bitter internal divisions that have forced homeowners to miss out on several self-imposed deadlines for voting.

“Welcome to my world,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Told reporters, adding, “We are not a lockstep party.”

President and First Lady Jill Biden delayed plans to travel Friday night to their home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Instead, Biden spoke with homeowners, moderate and progressive, said a White House official who described the talks on condition of anonymity.

Among those reached by Biden was Jayapal, whose caucus has been at the forefront of delaying the leverage infrastructure measure. Biden asked her and her group of 95 members to support the bill, said one person who told about the conversation only on condition of anonymity.

Progressives have long demanded that the two massive bills be voted together to pressure moderates to support the larger, more expansive social measure.

Democrats’ Day fell apart as half a dozen moderates, after hours of negotiations, insisted they would vote against the far-reaching package of health, education, family and climate change initiatives unless the party’s congressional budget office first presented its cost estimate for the measure.

Democratic leaders have said it would take days or more. With Friday’s delay and lawmakers’ plans to leave the city for a week – long break, these budget estimates could very well be ready when a vote is held.

When the infrastructure measure cleared the Senate, its GOP supporters even included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The package would provide huge sums for highway, mass transportation, broadband, airport, drinking and wastewater, electricity grids and other projects.

But it became a piece in the long struggle for power between progressive and moderate. Earlier Friday, Jayapal said the White House and Congress’ non-partisan mixed tax committee had provided all the tax information lawmakers needed for the broad bill.

“If our six colleagues still want to wait for a CBO score, we will agree to give them that time – after which we can vote on both bills together,” she wrote. It strongly suggested that some progressives were ready to vote against the Infrastructure Act.

But that changed after the two Democratic factions reached agreement.

House passage of the social and environmental package would send it to the Senate, where it faces certain changes and more democratic drama. This is primarily due to requirements from Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to limit the cost of the measure and limit or drop some of its initiatives.

Moderates have forced leaders to cut the roughly 2,100-page goal to about half its original $ 3.5 trillion size. Republicans are against it being too expensive and detrimental to the economy.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, appears as the group meets behind closed doors after the Democratic leadership abruptly postponed an expected vote in Parliament on a $ 1.85 trillion social and environmental measure at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, November 5, 2021. The decision came Friday, when fighting between progressives and moderates again derailed the pillar of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda. (AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite)

The package would help a large number of Americans pay for health care, raising children and caring for the elderly in the home. The package will provide $ 555 billion in tax breaks that encourage cleaner energy and electric vehicles. Democrats have in recent days added provisions restoring a new paid family leave program and work permits for millions of immigrants.

A large portion of the package’s costs would be covered by higher taxes on wealthier Americans and large corporations.

Moderate opposition and strict Senate rules on what can be included in the massive bill suggest the family leave program and immigration regulations could be dropped in that chamber.


Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro, Farnoush Amiri, Kevin Freking, Aamer Madhani, Alexandra Jaffe, Mary Clare Jalonick and Brian Slodysko contributed to this report.


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